One of the most common problems I’ve faced as a project manager is “fixing” a broken team. There are lots of reasons people don’t work together well. Sometimes team members prefer working solo. Sometimes there are organizational issues discouraging collaboration. And sometimes two people just don’t like each other.
Even if you’re not a project manager, there are some simple things you can do to help build a strong team.
- Listen to everyone. And I do mean everyone. Even the squeaky wheels, even the people that make everyone else roll their eyes. You never know what you’ll learn.
- Show respect to everyone. Assume everybody has something to offer. In my experience, they probably do. It just may not be what you expect.
- Acknowledge it when things don’t go right. If you don’t screw up, you won’t learn. Focus on what went wrong (the process), not on who’s to blame (the person). Get to the root cause and address that.
- Encourage creative bitching. If you’re already stuck, it’s too late to ask for ideas and input. I had one rule as a project manager: no complaining without suggesting a solution. Get your teammates’ input on problems you’re facing before it’s too late.
- Keep your promises. The fastest way to build a team–or turn around a troubled one–is to build trust. And the easiest way to do that is to be true to your word. If you commit to something, do it. If you can’t meet a commitment, fess up and negotiate an alternative.
You’ll be setting a standard that other team members will most likely respect and emulate. And your project manager will appreciate the support.